VIDEO: How the Malmesbury Missile destroyed the All Blacks
In February 2020 Pieter Stephanus du Toit suffered a leg injury that threatened to end his career just months after he was named World Rugby Player of the Year.
At the time Stormers doctor Jason Suter revealed the ‘medical emergency’, a haematoma that developed into an acute compartment syndrome, nearly resulted in the burly forward’s leg being amputated.
“It’s a medical emergency because if you don’t pick it up early they lose blood supply to the leg and they lose the leg.”
Move on three years, three surgeries and lots of hard work and Du Toit was the South African hero in the World Cup Final.
Pieter-Steph, as he is affectionately known, or the ‘Malmesbury Missile’ as Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber calls him, was named Man of the Match in South Africa’s 12-11 win over New Zealand in the World Cup Final at the Stade de France in Paris at the weekend.
Most pundits suggested his match-high 28 tackles did the trick.
And they certainly play a big part.
However, his five carries secured his team 36 positive metres, while he also made a team-high three dominant tackles.
(WATCH as Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber and captain Siya Kolisi speak about the Malmesbury Missile and his Man of the Match performance in the World Cup Final…)
“He was phenomenal,” Nienaber responded, when asked about Du Toit’s performance in the Final in the French national stadium.
“Defence is my department and he was exceptional.
“I must say in the last couple of games, he wanted it desperately.
“Not only him, but everyone wanted it desperately.
“He put himself in the right positions.
“I always joke that if there’s a white plastic bag that blows over the field, he would probably chase that down as well.
“That is him.
“‘The ‘Malmesbury Missile’ – that’s what he was – he was like a machine.”
Springbok captain Siya Kolisi also heaped praise on his teammate, suggesting he was so enarmoured by Du Toit tackling that he just wanted to ‘stand and watch him play’.
“He has grown so much,” The Bok captain said of the teammate that came back from the career threatening injury three years ago.
“I wanted to [just] watch him – the hits that he was making.
“I was standing there and he was flying past me – making big hits.
“It is not only what he does on the field.
“He also takes it off the field.
“When we are down, how he speaks to us as a group.
“It was quiet in the change room. He got everyone up.
“He has taken that leadership role and backs it up with what he does on the field.”